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外国配偶,幸福生活

更新时间:2018-3-23 22:38:34 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Foreign Spouse, Happy Life
外国配偶,幸福生活

A few years ago, my husband and I went to a restaurant on a Friday night. The Aperol spritzes had just arrived — we lived in Geneva, where the language is French and the cocktails are Italian — when a man I didn’t know approached our table. He started talking. My husband chatted back. On the sidelines, I limbered up my “bonsoir”s and “enchantée”s. But I never got the call-up. The man walked off, and I remained an unidentified sitting object — mute, anonymous, peeved.

几年前一个周五的晚上,我和丈夫去一家餐厅吃饭。阿贝罗酒刚上桌——我们住在日内瓦,那里说法语,而阿贝罗是一种意大利鸡尾酒——一个我不认识的男人走近我们坐的餐桌。他开始说话,丈夫和他聊了起来。我在旁边用法语说了几次“晚上好”和“很高兴认识你”,准备加入他们的交谈。但一直没人理我。那个男人走开了,对于他来说,我仍然只是旁边坐着的一个身份不明的人——默不作声、姓名不详、面露不悦。

“Why didn’t you introduce me?” I asked my husband.

“你为什么不介绍我?”我问丈夫。

“Why would I?” he replied. “That wouldn’t be normal.”

“为什么要介绍你?”他回答说。“那样就不正常了。”

“Yeah, if you want your acquaintances to think you were out to dinner with a prostitute.”

“好吧,如果你想让熟人以为你和一个妓女在外面吃饭的话。”

“I barely know him.”

“我几乎不认识他。”

My husband, I had to remind myself, is a courteous person. He is not a misogynist, a narcissist, a bigamist or any other agent noun that would predispose him to freezing his wife out of a conversation. As far as our prospects for cultural misunderstanding go, however, it’s worse than that: He’s French.

我必须提醒自己,我丈夫是一个有礼貌的人。他不歧视女性,不自恋,也没有重婚,不具有任何一种会让他把妻子排除在谈话之外的倾向。不过,就我们对文化误解的预期而言,情况比这些更糟:他是法国人。

I never would have guessed I’d become one of the more than four million Americans married to a foreigner when we met, six years ago, at a party in London. That was awkward, too: I thrust out my hand, saying, “Hi, I’m Lauren!” I would learn, much later, that French people have their own set of rules for making introductions. At social events in Paris, where we now live, kisses are exchanged before names. “Je m’appelle” as an icebreaker is strictly academic.

六年前,我们在伦敦的一个聚会上相识,当时,我从没想过自己会成为400多万名与外国人结婚的美国人中的一员。当时的情景也很尴尬:我伸出手说:“嗨,我是劳伦!”很久之后,我才知道,法国人有自己的一套介绍规则。在我们现在居住的巴黎的社交活动中,在交换名字之前要先亲吻对方。“我叫某某”只是一种理论上的打破僵局的方式。

In the small, proudly uncosmopolitan town in North Carolina where I grew up, the definition of exogamy was marrying someone from New Jersey. Our family trees grew in neat orchards of demographic similitude. Our parents, like their parents — the odd war bride aside — had paired off with people who were their mirror images.

我成长在北卡罗来纳州的一个以不国际化而自豪的小镇上,在那里,“与外族通婚”指的是与新泽西州的人结婚。我的家族图谱种族相似性极高。我们的父母和他们的父母一样——除了奇怪的战时婚姻——都是跟与他们极为相似的人结婚的。

This was a function of time as much as place. There was no internet. There was no weekend in Reykjavik. The United States Census Bureau began to take note of “mixed nativity” marriages only in 2013. But for the past four decades, multicultural marriages — interracial, interethnic and interreligious — have been increasing, with at least 7 percent of married-couple households now including one native and one foreign-born spouse. In California, Nevada, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, the rate is about double that. This is not just an American phenomenon. In 25 out of 30 European countries, for example, mixed-nativity marriage is on the rise, with the proportion, in some cases, reaching up to 20 percent.

这跟时间和地点有关。当时没有互联网。没有去雷克雅未克度周末这回事。美国人口普查局(The United States Census Bureau)从2013年才开始关注“跨出生地”婚姻。但在过去的40年里,跨文化婚姻——跨种族、跨民族和跨宗教的婚姻——一直在增加,现在至少有7%的已婚夫妇是一个本国人和一个外国出生的配偶。在加州、内华达州、夏威夷和哥伦比亚特区,这个比例大约是14%。这不是美国仅有的现象。例如,在30个欧洲国家中,有25个国家的跨出生地婚姻呈上升趋势,在某些国家,比例已上升到20%。

Studies have suggested that multicultural marriages are a tricky undertaking, with higher rates of divorce. There are psychotherapists who specialize in multicultural couples counseling. I imagine that they must occasionally zone out during the telling of yet another tale of mistranslation, homesickness, conflicting traditions, fuzzy communication or visa woes. (Obtaining the proper paperwork can be particularly difficult for same-sex binational couples.) Trouble lurks in the quotidian in multicultural partnerships. Trying to decide on the appropriate hour for dinner — in France, 9 p.m. is par — has caused more drama in our household than the more universal stumbling blocks of what to name our daughter and where to live. There are certain pleasures we’ll never share, like eating cold pizza for breakfast.

研究表明,跨文化婚姻很难维持,离婚率比较高。有些心理治疗师专门提供跨文化夫妻咨询。我想他们在倾听一个又一个关于误译、乡愁、相互冲突的传统、含糊的沟通或签证麻烦的故事时,偶尔也会觉得头晕脑胀(对于跨国同性伴侣来说,获得适当的文书尤为困难)。对跨文化夫妻来说,日常生活中也潜伏着各种问题。在法国,晚上9点是最合适的晚餐时间,这在我们家庭中引发的小题大做超过了其他一些更常见的障碍,比如,给女儿起什么名字,住在哪里。还有一些乐趣是我们永远无法分享的,比如,早餐吃冷批萨。

But for every ease that multicultural marriage takes away it offers an enrichment. Authentic recipes (hint: throw a “couenne de lard” — raw pork rind — in that “daube de boeuf”), spare passports, children who can bounce between two languages without ever once having drilled themselves on first-group verbs.

不过,跨文化婚姻能带来多少麻烦,就能给生活添加多少色彩。你可以得到原汁原味的食谱(小窍门:在法式慢炖牛肉中加点生猪肉皮)和备用护照;孩子们在学习第一组动词之前就可以在两种语言之间来回切换。

There’s freedom in carving out your own way of doing things. You have to think, hard, about your priorities when you can’t simply default to a shared norm. For me, learning French has been a profound gift; just being able to read the news in another language is like discovering that your house has an extra room you never knew existed. When you make a family with someone from another country, you get double the music, double the movies, double the teams to pull for, double the holidays. You travel. Your parents travel.

你可以自由地塑造自己的做事方式。如果你不确定某种方式是不是默认的共有规范,就必须认真思考自己的优先事项。对我来说,学习法语是一件很有意义的事,能用另一种语言阅读新闻就像发现房子里还有一个你从来不知道的房间一样。当你和来自另一个国家的人组建家庭时,你会得到双倍的音乐,双倍的电影,双倍要支持的球队,以及双倍的节日。你经常旅行。你的父母也经常旅行。

“It is prone to problems, but the chances for a rewarding relationship are better than average,” the authors of a Finnish report on binational marriage concluded. This rings true to me. Anyone who risks a life with someone outside of his in-group — not only across lines of nationality, but also those of religion, race and class — becomes a participant, whether he knows it or not, in a global experiment in developing empathy. The awareness and negotiation of small differences add up to a larger understanding about the complexities of the world.

“这很容易导致问题,但它成就一段回报丰厚的婚姻的可能性也高于平均水平,”芬兰的一份关于跨国婚姻的报告总结道。我认同这个结论。任何一位冒险与自己圈子之外的人结婚的人——不仅是跨国籍,还包括跨宗教、跨种族和跨阶级——都在有意无意中参与一个培养同理心的全球性实验。对细微差异的认识和协商使我们对世界的复杂性有了更多的了解。

The day that my husband and I marched alongside more than three million of his countrymen in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, I understood, in my bones, why a “rassemblement” isn’t exactly a rally, or a protest; that the flag doesn’t signal the same thing to the French as it does to Americans; that each society has its ways of expressing patriotism, belonging and grief. I’ve tried to remember this recently as my husband and I have butted heads over the meaning of the burkini. I’m thankful that we’re forced to. It’s far more difficult to dismiss difference when it’s sitting across the dinner table — even if it occasionally neglects to introduce you.

《查理周刊》(Charlie Hebdo)袭击事件发生后,我和丈夫与他的300多万同胞一起游行,那时我深刻地明白了,为什么法语中的“集合”(rassemblement)不完全等同于英语中的“集会”或“抗议”;国旗对法国人的意义跟对美国人的意义不同;每个社会都有自己表达爱国、归属感和悲伤的方式。前不久,我和丈夫对布基尼(burkini,为穆斯林妇女设计的泳衣——编注)的意义产生分歧时,我努力记起这一点。我很感激我们必须这么做。当面对面坐在餐桌边时,你更难忽略这些差异——即使它会偶尔忽略介绍你。

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